NEWS & ANALYSIS

We can pull SA back from the abyss - John Steenhuisen

DA Chief Whip says the country cannot afford another two years of ANC governance

We have an opportunity to pull SA back from the abyss

John Steenhuisen MP - Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance

The ancient Greek Titan Prometheus is reputed to have said:  “Whom the gods seek to destroy, they first make mad”.

And what madness we have witnessed:

A President who has sold his country to foreigners who stripped the country not only of its money and resources, but who have snatched away opportunity from the hands of the poor and most vulnerable in our society. The mother whose sheer desperation forces her to feed her children on grass and sugar water. Madness!

- All this whilst the President and his family have gotten richer; obscenely richer. The President of the Republic has sacrificed the future of our nation’s children on the altar of the Guptas only to selfishly secure his own future. Madness!

Our economy has been pushed to breaking point. Thievery by day, manoeuvring by night. Finance ministers pushed out under the cover of darkness. Their high crimes and misdemeanours? Trying to put the economy and people of South Africa first and keep the rabid wolves of State Capture away from the doors of the people’s Treasury. Madness!

A Minister of Finance, with no plan whatsoever to rescue our freefalling economy other than to slavishly execute, like a grinning Lord Baelish, the orders of his mad king. The irresponsible uncle we all know, who bets the family home to buy a sports car he knows he cannot possibly afford. Risking it all, he wants to take the sound investment portfolio and throw it into the abyss of SAA. Madness!

3 million of our mothers, sisters, brothers and fathers who do not have the dignity of work because this administration cannot get the basics right and a Parliament that does nothing to help them. Madness!

Those who stand up for right and against wrong are pursued and persecuted, while the crooked and corrupt are promoted. Madness!

And where exactly were the guardians of the people when these mists of madness swept over our nation?

This Parliament should be the frontline of defence for the people of South Africa.

Instead at every twist, test and turn, it has chosen president over people, party over principle, executive over example, and collusion over our Constitution.

We saw it happen over Nkandla.

We saw it happen when the Constitutional Court did its job in its damning judgement.

We saw it happen when Ministers like Faith Muthambi, Bathabile Dlamini and Mosebenzi Zwane wreaked havoc on the nation while this House sat on its hands and looked the other way.

We saw it happen when more than a hundred vulnerable patients were sentenced to die an agonizing death by an administration that behaved with criminal neglect and inhumane indifference.

And we are watching it happen before our very eyes over State Capture.

And, on the 8th of August South Africans came to see the truth - that we don't have a Jacob Zuma problem, we have an ANC problem.

On the back of Nkandla, the State of Capture report, the 783 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering. Despite his picking off of the good men and women in your party, one by one. Despite his driving away excellence and inducting incompetence.

You, apart from some brave men and women on your benches, who saw the madness and tried to end it, chose instead to own him. The ANC had an opportunity to do right by the People and our Constitution and stop the madness, but now you have become it.

Mr. Jacob Zuma is the ANC and the ANC is Mr. Jacob Zuma and surely as night follows day, this madness will contaminate your party until it destroys you. It’s already started as comrade turns on comrade. Your factional battles in some provinces, like KZN, are literally becoming a matter of life and death. All the while, as these battles rage on, the People are forgotten.

The “Do Nothing Parliament”!

We have also seen the manifestations of this being played out here in our Parliament as the People’s business is put on hold and forgotten while the factional battles play out in your caucus and our committee rooms, paralyzing the ability of this House to fulfil even the most basic of its Constitutional mandates.

Passing legislation: fail! Excepting the Division of Revenue and Appropriations bills, Parliament has passed just seven pieces of legislation this year, four of which were introduced in 2015.

This year, the 5th Parliament will hit a new record low of passing legislation. Sloppy law-making that has seen bills referred back for procedural and Constitutional failings. The reason? We have just not sat enough this year to process the People’s business because your party business and factional battles have taken centre stage.

Long recess periods in order for your organisation to try sort out its internal battles and fights over “White Monopoly Capital” this and “Radical Economic Transformation” that; who gets the keys to Treasury, and who do the Hawks target next; whose emails does the State Security Agency hack now, and who gets smeared next.

Committee meetings are cancelled because ANC members cannot stand to be in the same room as each other. We have seen them tearing each other apart in the Home Affairs committee, the Public Enterprises committee, and the Public Service and Administration committee. Like a mad beast that flails at its own flesh and gnaws away its own limbs, and all the while the People are forgotten.

Scrutinizing and overseeing Executive action: fail! This House has been completely castrated in its ability to do this by a governing party unwilling to hold its own executive accountable and a President that refuses to give this house the ability to do its job.

Just last week, at this very podium, the President was allowed to once again get away without answering basic questions that were put to him. It’s not that we didn't like the answer, as the Speaker tried to cast it.  It’s that there wasn't an answer to dislike at all. How is that executive accountability? How is that holding the President to account if serious question time is reduced to a giggling, paper shuffling evasion and obfuscation session? How can the National Assembly say it’s effecting accountability? It’s a sham! And all the while the People are forgotten.

The truth is that life has become too hard for too many South Africans. Sophocles said, “What joy is there in day that follows day, some swift, some slow, with death the only goal”.

And yet that’s the living reality for so many of our forgotten citizens under this government. The mother in abject poverty in Mount Ayliff who despairs over how she will feed her children that night while trying to eke out a living. The young school leaver in Kimberley who has given up hope of finding a job and whose only escape from this hopelessness is Tik.

These citizens, and the millions like them, should be this government’s obsession. But they are not. They should be this Parliament’s obsession. But they are not.

And that is why we need a reset.

South Africa cannot afford another two years of ANC governance. We cannot tolerate another two years of the Gupta family’s toxic influence over President Zuma and the ANC government. We cannot endure another two years of unchecked looting and plundering of our state-owned entities.

South Africa deserves a fresh start and the Constitution makes provision for early elections in instances, such as these, where there is a legitimacy crisis. Public representatives are elected to represent the hopes and aspirations of ordinary South Africans who, through their votes, chose them to serve. When they no longer serve those who elected them, but instead serve the interests of the political elite and their criminal associates, they must be removed.

Opposition parties also carry the hopes of the millions of South Africans who are unemployed and poor. They too should not disappoint the disaffected the way the ANC has.

The ANC can no longer be trusted to govern. South Africans have had enough. This is why the motion to usher in new elections must be supported.

This is a call to action.

My fellow members of the 5th Parliament of the Republic, in the next eighteen months, as President Zuma and his berserkers, in a maniacal rollercoaster, drive this nation closer and closer to the abyss;

As the unemployment lines grow ever longer, and hope grows ever shorter;

As this Parliament continues to be hollowed out, diminished and reduced into a “do-nothing” assembly;

As this government, at war with itself, continues to tear itself apart reducing our citizens to hostages of its hostility.

Let it be remembered, every day, that things could have been so different.

Let this day, the 5th of September 2017, be remembered as the day that this House had a chance to stand up for the people, had a choice and chance to strike out, and chose to draw a line in the sand and arrest the madness.

Let us not choose to fold our arms, turn our backs on the People, and once again do nothing.

But know this: whether this motion succeeds or fails today, the People of this country are crying out for change. They have grown weary of a president, party and government that puts itself first and them last. And the people will bring change.

Issued by the DA, September 2017